BAGHDAD, Iraq - A man with explosives hidden under his clothes set them off while standing in a line of people waiting outside a police and army recruitment center in northern Iraq on Wednesday, killing 30 people and wounding 35, police said.
In Tikrit, meanwhile, a suicide car bomb exploded in a small market near a police station Wednesday, killing at least 24 people and wounding 70, police said.
Police first thought the powerful blast in Hawija, a small town 150 miles north of Baghdad, was caused by a car bomb, but police Maj. Sarhad Qadir later said they later found it was an attacker waiting in a line of about 150 recruits.
"I was standing near the center and all of a sudden it turned into a scene of dead bodies and pools of blood," said police Sgt. Khalaf Abbas. "Windows were blown out in nearby houses, leaving the street covered by glass." He spoke in an interview from the chaotic scene over his cell phone.
Qadir said 30 people were killed and 35 were wounded, including about 15 who were in critical condition.
Like many other such recruitment centers in Iraq, Hawija's is located in a building surrounded by cement walls topped with barbed wire in an effort to prevent attacks by car bombs.
Men often line up outside such centers early in the morning to apply for jobs at a time of high unemployment in Iraq.
Insurgents target the centers, and Iraqi security forces on patrol, in an effort to block a key goal of U.S. forces: to one day be replaced by newly trained Iraqi soldiers and police.
Hawija is a small town with few facilities, so some of the casualties were taken by ambulance to hospitals in Kirkuk, a city 35 miles to the northeast.
In Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, meanwhile, Police Lt. Col. Saad Daham said that security prevented the car bomb attacker from exploding his vehicle in front of the police station, but that the bomber swerved into a crowd of people at the nearby market.
The bomb exploded at 7:15 a.m., and many day laborers who had traveled to Tikrit from poor areas of Iraq were waiting at the market to be picked up for work at construction sites, Daham said.
He said at least 23 civilians and one policeman were killed, and 69 civilians and one policeman wounded. At Tikrit General Hospital, Dr. Faisal Mahmoud said the facility was too small to handle so many casualties.